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Gwen Boyd - ASU

Dr. Gwendolyn Boyd, the new president of Alabama State University, may not have a problem with her contract, but a clause forbidding her from allowing any lovers to stay at her home has caused an uproar.

Inside Higher Ed reports that the single Boyd’s contract included $300,000, a car and the presidential residence — and a no romantic visitors clause, which may be illegal.

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…the phrasing may be illegal nonetheless, said Raymond Cotton, a Washington lawyer who has negotiated several hundred presidential contracts. Cotton, who represents boards and presidents alike, said he’s never seen such language in any public or private college president’s contract.

The Alabama State contract, finalized late last week, says, “For so long as Dr. Boyd is president and a single person, she shall not be allowed to cohabitate in the president’s residence with any person with whom she has a romantic relation.” The contract was obtained and posted online by The Birmingham News.

Cotton said Supreme Court cases prevent government, including Alabama’s, from interfering in personal lives this way.

“I don’t know of any state that has the right to invade someone’s residence even if the state owns that residence,” Cotton said. “To convey that residence and dictate what kind of romantic relationship you can have in that facility – I mean, she’s not in prison.”

Officials at Alabama State, a historically black university, did not explain where the language came from or say whether it’s standard language for any president, single or not.

“The contract was negotiated between Dr. Gwendolyn Boyd and the Alabama State University Board of Trustees and both parties agreed to it and have no problem with it,” a university spokesman, Kenneth Mullinax, said in the university’s sole response to questions.

The clause reads as follows: “For as long as Dr. Boyd is President and a single person, she shall not be allowed to cohabitate in the President’s residence with any person with whom she has a romantic relation.”

While a clause regulating Boyd’s personal life is unusual, legal watchers claim that it’s not unheard of, but the idea that an adult woman is not allowed to navigate her own relationships, away from her career, is still an extremely patriarchal concept.

And one has to wonder if that same language would be included for a man.



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